Western Australian state-owned energy company Western Power has selected an Indian multinational information technology services and consulting company to help digitally transform its software systems. Under the multi-year agreement, the company will act as the primary systems integrator across multiple domains including asset management and network operations as well as secondary systems integrator for asset operations, finance and the corporate domain.
The IT services and consulting company will provide services to support Western Power’s commitment towards continually improving its network reliability, the productivity of field services teams, and safety for customers, and support the utility in its transition to a flexible, modular grid. The company will also work with Western Power on the WA and federal governments’ flagship Distributed Energy Resources Program virtual power plant pilot. The two-year Project Symphony pilot aims to aggregate a network of solar-powered homes that collectively generate and store energy.
The Head of ICT at Western Power stated that its network continues to evolve as a result of the growing adoption of renewable energies. Western Power has reached out to organisations with appropriate capability as it delivers on this ‘exciting phase’ of its transformation.
The IT services and consulting company has been selected based on their domain knowledge in the utility and engineering sectors. They have a growing establishment in the Western Australian corporate landscape and are well-positioned to partner with us as we deliver on our corporate objectives, she added.
Digital transformation at the heart of energy’s net-zero ambitions
The convergence of net-zero ambitions, evolving digital and industrial technologies as well as changing consumer awareness is driving the emergence of new digital opportunities within the energy system, according to the Senior Manager Strategy & Consulting at a US-based digital transformation consultancy. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates the potential for digital transformation to unlock US$1.3 trillion of value for the global electricity sector alone.
Australia’s energy suppliers are among global trailblazers when it comes to digitising net-zero ambitions. The US-based digital transformation consultancy’s Next Stop: Net Zero survey identified clear intent from Australian energy suppliers to use digital business transformation to drive net-zero outcomes.
70% of Australian energy suppliers are actively engaged in implementing digital transformation strategies intended to help achieve net-zero goals – well above the global average of 50% of energy suppliers. 88% of Australian respondents also expressed that the net-zero agenda presented them with an opportunity to transform their business more broadly.
Australia’s exposure to the destructive effects of climate change is driving increased government, consumer and shareholder visibility of the impacts of climate risk and the need for net-zero focus relative to other jurisdictions.
Strong Australian adoption of renewables over the last few decades has cultivated the underlying conditions for experimentation that other regions are yet to achieve. The next stage will be about orchestration and how digital can enable visibility and control of the underlying pieces to drive value.
The government has been integral in driving change with targeted support to the start-ups and SME segments to increase the rate of innovation and competitive tension in the market, the report notes. Incumbent businesses are compelled to think through and action competitive responses to retain value and relevance as challengers rapidly approach and consume new value pools.
The net-zero mission has become a powerful mantra for driving digital transformation strategies, providing an opportunity for energy suppliers to transform themselves from the inside out.
If energy suppliers are to realise their net-zero ambitions, a significant re-evaluation of their digital strategies needs to take place. This includes forging new partnerships across ecosystems, achieving a deep understanding of customer data, and instilling a culture of innovation. Culture must be instilled from the top down: if management is not on board with the organisation’s digital transformation agenda, it will become impossible to sustain.
What makes a city smart often feature the use of digital technologies that improve residents’ quality of life, whether that means advancing economic, resilience, equity or safety goals. Other metrics have focused on investments, installed technology devices and outcomes like cost or time savings.
All these measurements are valid, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, but they’re limited and incomplete. Smart streetlights and traffic monitoring solutions produce data on energy savings and congestion reduction, but they don’t help cities find out if brighter streets at night and fewer traffic accidents make residents feel safer. Similarly, assessing the value of internet-of-things deployments is difficult because connected devices are usually customised for a specific location, infrastructure and use case. 
There is often not a reliable and objective way to self-assess the level of success or impact that technologies have on inhabitants, technology deployments in smart cities are often limited to vertical applications and use cases with specific goals, rather than city-wide transformational goals. The agency wants to change that, making sure that cities have tools to measure progress, compare their results to other communities and build a smarter future for residents and businesses.
NIST takes a broad view of smart cities, defining “smart” as “the efficient use of digital technologies to provide prioritised services and benefits to meet community goals, such as economic vitality, equity, resilience, sustainability, or quality of life.
It then proposes holistic key performance indicators (H-KPI) cities can use to evaluate smart city projects that cross neighbourhoods, infrastructures, populations, income levels and use a variety of currently deployed technologies, from sensors to data platforms. The goal is to support the “reuse and repurposing of infrastructures, services and datasets, along with the integration of new technologies” so cities can keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital innovation landscape.

What’s different about the H-KPI framework is that it allows data assessment at three interacting levels of analysis:
Robust information flow within and across the three levels of analysis is a key characteristic of a smart city or community and a core element of the H-KPI method. The framework assesses efficiency, effectiveness, quality and alignment with priorities and becomes the foundation for the five core metrics for measuring smart:
The application of the H-KPI framework is “intended to enhance the ability of cities and communities to use advanced technologies efficiently and effectively in improving the quality of life for their inhabitants. The approach will also benefit future efforts in the NIST smart cities and communities program including the NIST Global City Teams Challenge.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, NIST titled “Engineering Trustworthy Secure Systems”, addresses the engineering-driven perspective and actions necessary to develop more defensible and survivable systems, inclusive of the machine, physical, and human components that compose those systems and the capabilities and services delivered by those systems.
The need for trustworthy secure systems stems from the adverse effects associated with a diverse set of stakeholder needs that are driven by mission, business, and other objectives and concerns. The characteristics of these systems reflect a growth in the geographic size, number, and types of components and technologies that compose the systems; the complexity and dynamicity in the behaviours and outcomes of the systems; and the increased dependence that results in a range of consequences from major inconvenience to catastrophic loss due to adversity within the global operating environment.
The 13th Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, administered by the International Paralympic Committee and scheduled to run from 4 to 13 March 2022, highlights how today’s latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can benefit everyone, including those that are physically challenged. The series of events that are meant to showcase athletes with physical disabilities shows how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G system infrastructure can make a difference to provide a greater impact on people’s lives.
Top of the list is Ling Yu, the digitally-created host. Using AI to produce virtual hosts is not a new phenomenon as it has been a staple in various events for many years. Ling Yu, however, is pushing boundaries by also being able to interpret sign language. That means the paralympic games can be experienced by deaf people. So, the digital host’s omnipresence is a win for everyone — even for the hearing impaired.
But it’s not just the hearing challenged; the sight-impaired can also make the most of the games. Energy-efficient printing techniques using antibacterial nanomaterials will also introduce a rollout of braille that could pass as the largest in the sport’s history. The assistive technology readied a Braille version of the manual for athletes and officials, spectators’ guide, venue introduction and maps. The green printing technology was developed by a team of scientists at the Institute of Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The team printed the spectators’ guide for the Paralympic Winter Games, a service manual for athletes and team officials. This also includes inspection terms for anti-doping, which have large-print and Braille versions. Chinese scientists use antibacterial nanomaterial that allows braille to be printed on more materials than before (e.g., glass, stainless steel) at a fraction of traditional costs. The technology is able to form a film after penetrating the surface of the paper, and it firmly attaches to the paper so that dots printed through the material are abrasion-resistant.
All these show how ICT can bridge traditional gaps in society. By allowing people with disabilities to experience the games, technology has made the paralympic games a more inclusive one. And this goes also for people in need of medical attention.
Another technology solution that plays a central role in the Beijing Paralympics is 5G technology. The global event reveals how 5G can help deliver faster medical services. Specifically, 5G-enabled smart ambulances can send data in the form of live visual feeds and haptic feedback to control rooms with near-zero latency. Simply put, this means paramedics equipped with VR headsets and joysticks can be guided by clinicians in real-time, allowing a wider range of procedures to be performed more quickly, as well as medical records and incidents to be shared faster.
Indeed, the 2022 Beijing Paralympic games showcase how ICT technology can transform lives. This year’s games will feature 564 athletes representing 46 National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), competing in 78 medal events across six sports. Such digital transformation can promote the ideologies of an inclusive society, both nationally and between nations on the international stage. Integrating people from a diverse range of backgrounds, skills, and abilities is a key message of the Olympics, and technology helps to amplify this.
China has been undergoing digital transformation at a frenetic pace these past years. And the Asian nation has been putting all the pieces to get its act together. As reported on OpenGov Asia, for instance, Beijing has allowed the operation of a new state-controlled 5G operator set to service the country this year.
Already, China is increasingly becoming a cashless society — relying mainly on QR technology for the transaction of goods. And the Beijing Paralympics highlights how such advancements in ICT technology can help everyone on the planet.
In a bid to attract the best tech talent from around the world to the island nation, New Zealand is easing its border restrictions for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workers. Already, the process to apply for 600 border exceptions for tech workers is in full swing and businesses can apply for an industry nomination via the leading tech industry groups, namely NZTech or IT Professionals NZ.
Indeed, this can be a great start for the nation in its digital transformation plans. From the onset, it shows how much the country is committed to boosting its digital economy by encouraging quality talent to come in.
NZTech,  the government-funded marketing arm designed to boost New Zealand technology to the world, is at the forefront in these border exceptions. Graeme Muller, NZTech Chief Executive, confirms the country’s need for tech workers as the New Zealand digital economy is expanding. But more may be needed to meet the demand.
This is a drop in the ocean for the actual numbers needed to support the continued growth of New Zealand’s tech sector and the growing number of critical digital projects across multiple government agencies and large businesses, however, it will definitely help reduce some of the pressure. 
– NZTech Chief Executive Graeme Muller
Once processed, the 600 visas should jumpstart talent acquisition for the country. It will allow the fast-growing tech sector and other sectors where digital skills are in high demand to finally start attracting some of the world’s best tech talent into New Zealand.
Earlier, research showed how much the island nation needs talent. The Digital Skills for our Digital Future report released in 2021 highlighted New Zealand’s digital skills mismatch, driven by increasing demand for people with advanced skills while at the same time producing a low level of graduates that lack the required experience.
Mueller notes that there were between 3500 and 4500 IT visas issued each year for the past five years to address this widening gap. The skills mismatch became a critical skills shortage with the closing of the New Zealand borders in response to the pandemic.
The border exception is available for specific roles that are in the highest demand. Some of the jobs it includes are:
Muller advises that more information is available via the nomination application page. That includes multiple sub-roles or job titles that fall within these broader role categories. Moreover, companies wishing to bring workers in must note that the role being offered and the worker must meet certain requirements and industry expectations which are detailed in the nomination guide.
Given the need to balance immigration and domestic skills development, employers seeking industry nominations are expected to be engaged in a programme to support domestic skills development. That means they should be working together as a member of a relevant industry body.
New Zealand is pulling out all the stops to transform itself into one of the world’s leading ICT destinations. In the background, the island nation has been known as a largely agricultural society. While agriculture still is its largest industry, slowly but surely, it is pivoting to become one of the foremost technology-oriented nations.
With that goal in hand, it’s carefully charting a digital course that injects the notion of ethics into the conversation. For example, as reported on OpenGov Asia, the country is set to form an ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy by involving a wide range of stakeholders.
The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) outlined plans to build a Digitally Secure, Economically Vibrant, and Socially Stable Singapore in its Committee of Supply (COS) speeches delivered in Parliament today. Acknowledging how Digitalisation is shaping the way we live, learn, work and play, the Ministry’s plans focus on empowering Singaporeans to seize the opportunities of going digital while protecting their safety and security in the digital space.
As we embrace technology for growth opportunities, it is critical to address rapidly evolving digital threats, especially those which affect vulnerable groups such as children, women and seniors, and businesses.
– Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information
To safeguard Singaporeans online, Minister Teo announced plans to introduce legislative measures to keep online spaces safe, enhance data protection for consumers and businesses, as well as strengthen the security and resilience of digital infrastructure and services. In addition, Minister Teo announced a new Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme which will provide an affordable and effective dispute resolution alternative for consumers and small businesses facing contractual disputes with telecommunication and media services providers. The scheme will be launched in April 2022.
To support local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in building their digital security, Minister of State (MOS) for Communications and Information Mr Tan Kiat How announced the launch of the new Data Protection Essentials programme which will be available from 1 April 2022 to help businesses protect their consumer data and enable them to recover quickly from a data breach. Businesses that have good cybersecurity practices will also be recognised through the Cyber Trust Mark and Cyber Essentials Mark which will be launched end-March 2022.
Urging SMEs to capitalise on the momentum for digitalisation, which accelerated across the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, MOS Tan reinforced the Government’s commitment to supporting businesses as they digitally transform and internationalise. More support will be extended to SMEs, such as through the Advanced Digital Solutions scheme which will provide more AI-enabled and cloud-based integrated solutions. The Government will also introduce a broader suite of e-commerce platforms under the Grow Digital scheme, to help SMEs access international markets without a need for physical presence overseas.
MOS Tan further emphasised the importance of Government partnerships with the industry and Institutes of Higher Learning, to pave the way for more Singaporeans to access jobs and opportunities in the Digital Economy. A new degree programme (Bachelor of Science with Honours in Applied Computing, with a specialisation in FinTech) will also be offered at the Singapore Institute of Technology to prepare a core of Singaporean talents for more specialised roles in the tech ecosystem.
Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Communications and Information Dr Janil Puthucheary emphasised the importance of building up digital infrastructure and pushing technological boundaries to meet Singapore’s future needs. He announced that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) will pilot a Call for Application to construct data centres that prioritise energy efficiency and decarbonisation, in line with the Government’s commitment to the sustainable development of the data centre sector.
SMS Janil also outlined Singapore’s approach towards forging a secure and vibrant global Digital Economy together with international partners. He highlighted that Singapore had signed Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) with four countries to date.SMS Janil added that Singapore’s focus on developing cybersecurity standards to foster trusted and secured use of technology and devices have also garnered interest among international partners.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore and the United Kingdom will work more closely to facilitate digital trade between the countries by signing three Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in the areas of Digital Trade Facilitation, Digital Identities and Cybersecurity. The partnership will make digital transactions by businesses easier, safer and cheaper.
New Zealand is developing an approach to supporting the ethical adoption of AI — one that is focused on building an AI ecosystem on a foundation of trust, equity and accessibility right from the onset.
A crucial part of this approach is to involve key stakeholders in the planning. And that is exactly the reason why the government has designed the system so every New Zealander and every technology expert who matters can contribute.
The success of this ITP requires us to form a consensus view on the scope of our ambition and how this can be achieved with actions and initiatives that are sufficiently realistic to bring about meaningful change – both short and longer-term.
– David Clark, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications
Wellington published a draft that should jumpstart its pursuit of an ethical AI ecosystem:  the Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) which covers its overall digital transformation road map. Its goal is to support the continued growth of the country’s technology sector. More importantly, the government is allowing New Zealanders and those in the private and public sectors to contribute. Now, it awaits feedback from the industry and other parties to refine the action plan.
The ITP outlines key areas that need to be targeted. Some of these areas are:
The new AI strategy is part of this plan and is structured around five cornerstones including:
Future gains when it comes to an ethical AI strategy has been cited. For instance, ITP also highlighted that the AI economy will drive investment into the country and position it as a society for the future. The draft plan underlined that AI will have an impact on the country’s workforce and productivity. It is imperative that policymakers understand the implications of the technology on citizens and equip workers with the necessary digital skills to be a part of the AI economy.
The initial plan further mentioned that the goal is to position New Zealand businesses as internationally recognised as developers of safe, innovative, and creative AI, and for the country to be a trusted and willing partner in the planet’s push for AI technology. To that end, the AI ecosystem will need a set of solid foundations (e.g., proper governance arrangements, digital infrastructure).
New Zealand is willing to pull all the stops to get its digital transformation going. Wellington is considering whether to establish a Centre for AI to provide an independent and visible focal point to grow an understanding of AI and other data-driven technologies. This would help domestic and international colleagues engage with each other and help them understand the complex nature of AI and the risks it poses.
The plan is getting needed feedback as we speak. The New Zealand government is seeking feedback not only from the industry but also from other interested parties to refine the action plan.
After every bit of feedback is sorted, the creation of a final ITP that will address short and long-term opportunities and challenges for the sector should follow. The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) invite interested parties to make a submission by 31 March 2022, as reported on OpenGov Asia.
Singapore’s National University Health System (NUHS) adopted a virtual wards system to care for Covid-19 patients remotely. Clinicians from NUHS share how virtual wards have saved patients more than five thousand overnight stays in the hospital. They explain why a virtual wards system may prove vital to addressing future challenges. NUHS’ virtual wards enable COVID-19 patients to recover at home, given that their condition doesn’t require hospitalisation.
Doctors and nurses monitor the health of these recovering patients in two ways. First, patients or patients’ families will speak with caregivers every one to two days through video or audio calls. This call could include an examination, where patients are required to perform a simple exercise like standing up and sitting down. This is where the second form of monitoring comes in. Wearable devices allow NUHS  to monitor patients’ blood oxygen levels, temperature and pulse rate while they recover at home.
If patients’ oxygen levels drop after this exercise, this could indicate COVID-19 is affecting a patient’s lungs. A chatbot sends patients a reminder three times a day to input their vital signs into an online form. Less tech-savvy patients or those without mobile devices receive wearable tools that automatically record and share this data. If the vital signs data shared with NUHS are beyond the usual limits, indicating ill health, NUHS staff will be notified so they can follow up.
– Dr Stephanie Ko, Clinical Lead, NUHS@Home
A chatbot sends patients a reminder three times a day to input their vital signs into an online form. Less tech-savvy patients or those without mobile devices receive wearable tools that automatically record and share this data. If the vital signs data shared with NUHS are beyond the usual limits, indicating ill health, NUHS staff will be notified so they can follow up.
Virtual wards may also help healthcare organisations to manage Singapore’s ageing population. This trend, and increasing demand for hospital beds, prompted Dr Ko’s team to explore alternatives to hospitalisation in a physical ward. The wards are helping to redesign Singapore’s healthcare towards a shift from hospital to community.
The concept of virtual wards is well-established in Australia, the UK, and the US, Ko shares. It enables patients to receive treatment “within the comfort of their own homes, and reduce the risk of exposure to hospital-acquired infections. The OneNUHS app is another initiative to promote this shift to healthcare in the community. Its telehealth feature allows patients and their families to teleconsult with their specialists via video call.
Telehealth also reduces the amount of travelling to patients’ homes. Nurses are not required to record vital signs in person, meaning they can conduct in-person visits only where needed. Virtual wards are part of a revolutionary rethinking of hospital care. Not only do they form part of Singapore’s response to Covid-19, but they could be here to stay for the nation’s future health challenges.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, targeting the limitations of these conventional training methods, researchers at the Keio-NUS CUTE Center under the National University of Singapore (NUS) Smart Systems Institute, together with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), developed the Multi-Sensory Extended Reality (MS-XR) Medical Crisis Management System which offers medical first responders a more realistic triage training experience.
The crisis management system has been used in the SAF Medical Training Institute’s (SMTI) medical triaging training module. SMTI has trained Emergency Medical Technicians trainees from SMTI  through the new training approach and feedback from these trainees has been positive. SMTI plans to use the new training module for all its trainees and graduates across the various SAF units every year.
The Paralympics begins on March 4, and overseas attendees will again be invited to make use of the digital CNY at Olympic venues in the capital Beijing and other parts of the country hosting events. But media outlets in the country hinted that the pilot is looking yet further ahead, with multiple Chinese provinces making multiple mentions of digital CNY in their latest five-year plans.
The Winter Olympics should have been the world’s first taste of e-CNY as China introduced the digital form of China’s sovereign currency to millions of global visitors. Foreign visitors were set to massively use the e-CNY to buy items during the games even without a domestic bank account.
Those plans hit a bump with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the Chinese capital has been largely closed to the world. Under a “zero COVID” policy aimed at halting any transmission of the virus, Beijing has adopted a “closed-loop system” for the games under which the 11,000 participants are sealed off from the general public.
To date, China has one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 prevention strategies. Once within the Olympic loop, people will undergo daily testing for COVID-19 and will be unable to access the outside world for the duration of their time in Beijing. Simply put, there will be no contact between people outside and inside the loop.
But as Winter Paralympics approaches, wider adoption of the e-CNY has been seen. As local provincial leaders met in their regular annual meeting to set into motion a raft of new, economic development-focused five-year plans, the digital yuan was mentioned on more than one occasion by more than 10 provinces and cities.
Henan Province, for instance, wrote of its intention to make “clear strides” to advance the pilot in the “digital economy” section of its plan – although the central People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is still yet to announce an official launch date.
Along with Henan, applicants for an e-CNY adoption include Fujian and Heilongjiang provinces, and the cities of Guangzhou, Chongqing, Fuzhou and Xiamen. China has run public trials of its digital yuan in cities including Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen.
Meanwhile, small and medium-sized Chinese banks have been pursuing the adoption of digital yuan business with clear intent. Earlier this year, two smaller financial institutions announced that they would no longer handle banknotes and coins – and would focus their efforts almost entirely on e-CNY business.
Banks including the Bank of Sichuan have hired software firms to help them build interoperability solutions, while a financial expert observes that many smaller banks are now combining their digital CNY adoption drives with their greater digital transformation efforts.
The plan to debut China’s digital currency to the world during the Winter Olympics this year has clearly highlighted the country’s advances in digital transformation. While there are still a lot of challenges ahead for the Asian nation when it comes to digital adoption. strides have been made as evident by its largely cashless society.
To underpin its growth and safeguard citizens, Beijing is taking a tougher stance to regulate the country’s technological advances. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the administration has been looking at regulating the implementation of Artificial Intelligence.
© 2022 OpenGov Asia – CIO Network Pte Ltd.

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